I am reading legendary Alabama and Oakland Raiders’ quarterback Kenny Stabler’s autobiography, Snake. With most books, I would wait a few days to finish it before regaling anyone with just a fraction of what’s inside.
This is not an option with Snake, a book that is basically “The Grapes of Wrath, but if the Okies were from Alabama, and one of them, the narrator in this case, had a lightning strike for a left arm and a penchant for fast cars, women, and calling his own plays on the field. Also it’s sexy, unlike the Grapes of Wrath, and no one is broke after the first couple of chapters, and even then it’s fine because somehow there’s always beer money to spend in Mobile.
This book is not like the Grapes of Wrath at all. As far as I know no adult men get breastfed in it, though based on the first one hundred pages THAT IS ENTIRELY POSSIBLE. There’s not even a symbolic turtle in it unless John Madden counts, which he does not, because John Madden is more like a very anxious but caring bear.
It’s not Steinbeck. It’s much, much better than that, and it can’t wait until I’m finished. This is all just in the first hundred pages. I will update you when I am done, but this could not wait.
- Kenny Stabler and his friends used to go to five bars in two hours each night during training camp. This passed for training camp fitness in the 1970s. The Raiders were somehow a very good football team even with their best players getting hammered every single night for weeks on end during the part of the year where they were supposed to be getting in shape. I am repeatedly awestruck that anyone has survived a single day of being alive, much less being Kenny Stabler.
- Kenny’s dad beat the shit out of four men with an asphalt shingle. “Slim” Stabler is the requisite horrifying alcoholic Southern father in this story, and like all of those he’s basically an Ent with a drinking problem, an iron chin, and the ability to whip multiple men’s asses with construction materials. This one happened over a high school basketball game in south Alabama, but you already knew that because Foley, Alabama is basically Thunderdome in this book.
- Bear Bryant, infuriated after Stabler threw an interception late to seal a 7-7 tie against Tennessee, led the Crimson Tide’s players back to the visitor’s locker room and found the doors locked. He didn’t wait for anyone to show up with a key, and forearm shivered the door open, knocking it off its hinges. Then he told everyone but the players to get out, lifted the door back into place, and apologized to the players for not preparing them better for the game. BEAR BRYANT WAS TERRIFYING.
- Bryant’s offense called plays with the most country terminology I have ever heard in my life. When Stabler was there plays were called by directions: “Gee” and “Haw.” The terms describe “Right” and “Left”, and were used to call out commands to cart donkeys and other draft animals.
- They also only ran like ten plays, which Alabama fans probably still think is the ideal number of plays to have if you really want to get fancy about things.
- Stabler kited checks for money as an undergrad until he could catch up with the last check written out to a creditor, which would never be a story today at all, nope.
- Stabler bought a new 1966 Corvette in Tuscaloosa with no credit, documentation, or cash because he said he’d pay it off when he turned pro. This is unique, because no one in college football since then has made a fishy deal involving a car, and especially not in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
- Stabler then wrecked the car with 67 miles on it on the way to a date in Mobile, but still made the date because Kenny Stabler at all points in this book is extremely horny, and possibly the horniest football player of all time.
- Stabler said everyone made fun of Al Davis for a.) being so self-conscious about his weak shoulders he wore shoulder pads but would never admit it, and b.) having no ass, which again seems like an extremely thing to make fun of someone for, Kenny.
- Carl Weathers is one of his teammates! Raiders had a real stew going there for a while.